Film Testimony on Homosexuality and Christianity Earlier this month, a video testimony was released online featuring my friend Colby Adams.…
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Relational ministry can seem like a no-brainer. It’s simply being “in relationship” with students, right? Well yes…and no. It IS being in relationship with students, but how we evaluate that is everything. Simple things, like sending a student a well-worded text message or showing up at a football game or choir concert, are great places to start relationship. But to really evaluate TRUE relationship—life-on-life the way Jesus described—our team MUST go deeper. And that can sometimes be hard to quantify in a Top 20 list. So I’m giving you my Top 10 ways to know I might not have gone far enough in relationship with my students.
1. If I haven’t personally met a student’s parents, I’m not really in relationship with them—since parents are the most important faith influence a teenager has…even the unchurched ones!
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2. If I don’t know five things about one thing in the life of a teenager, I’m not in true relationship with them. For example, one thing I know about Cody is his football number: 96—and that’s good. Five things I should know: How did he end up with that number? When did he start playing football? Has he ever been injured in the game? What’s his favorite position to play? Where do his folks sit in the bleachers? (I can catch two birds with one worm with that little bit of info!)
3. If I haven’t done something fun, spontaneous, and not on the church calendar with a student, I may be missing the mark. Relational ministry usually happens best outside ‘the lab’—so I get out of the student center on a pretty regular basis and grab pizza or a movie with my students.
4. If I haven’t met and invited unchurched siblings, I’m not really impacting a family in a relational way. It doesn’t matter if I’m inviting them to kids ministry, youth ministry, or college ministry. I need to know their names and establish connection with them to truly claim relationship with my student.
5. When a student asks me to pray for their friends, they’re inviting me in! If I haven’t prayed for a teenager’s friend(s), by name and specific request…and then followed up with my students about that request, I’m not truly going far enough in our friendship.
6. Regardless of the size of my ministry, if I have personally met a student three times and still cannot remember their names…I’m not doing relational ministry well. (Sometimes this entails having “private eyes” to remind me and other adults in our ministry who are much better at that than I am!)
Yesterday we ran down 10 quick hits on increasing relational ministry in your youth group; today we’re back with 10 more and hoping you contribute another couple in the comments, too! Here we go:
11. Set up shop at a fast-food place right next to the school that has open lunch. Send a group text saying you’re buying tacos for the first 5 who show up.
12. Get a copy of the school paper; shoot an email to the principle with encouragement.
13. Buy every ad space possible—football programs, gym banners, etc. Banners don’t make a ministry more relational but they let people know you are available when the time arises.
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14. Show up at funerals for any teenager in the community. Your face is a symbol of the care of Christ. Even if you don’t talk to anyone, your presence makes a statement.
15. Organize a “drop by” coffee shop afternoon where students or leaders can drop in for a free drink on you and a chat.
16. Have your room set and program done 15 minutes before the service starts so you can greet everyone as they come in.
This week we’re going to simply knock out 20 ways you can increase the level of relational ministry in your youth group. Quick, random, hits that we hope inspire you to try something new, too!
1. Add a greeting time in youth group. Give them a couple minutes to help new people feel welcome.
2. Spend time with a student every day. It doesn’t have to be physical, face-to-face, time—send them a quick text, comment on their Facebook, like an Instagram picture, etc. Just make contact with one or two students every day.
3. Start an Instagram account for your ministry. Post pictures every week of people, not places.
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4. Give out your personal cell phone number instead of the church office line you completely ignore.
5. Walk slowly through church this week. You might be surprised at who stops to talk to you when you aren’t hurried.
6. Let someone else teach so you can work the room.
Yesterday we looked at how your student ministry can really serve your graduated seniors by helping them find a church, equipping them, and checking in on their faith and life periodically. Today we’re back with 3 more ways that youth groups minister to students in the “5th year.”
Send a care package.
There’s something magical about notes and cards from home. Combine that with some of Sandra’s famous brownies and it’s like heaven on earth. Think of a creative package you can mail to your students—what if you created an assembly line at youth group next week and made up some really special gifts to send their way? It would be a great way for students to get in on extending their community beyond 12th grade, and also give them something to look forward to when they’re done with high school, too!
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Invite them back.
This past weekend it was so fun to have some of our students back for their college spring break. A better youth worker would have planned a reception for former students to come back to, or even had a little reunion planned for them. How cool would it be to create a culture where students are celebrated when they return and look forward to reconnecting with the leaders who loved them beyond youth group? I want that kind of ministry!